Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

February 17, 2021

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. Overall, case numbers continue to decline, with 1,383 active cases reported as of February 16, 2021. First Nation communities in the Atlantic region have not reported a new case since January 25.

Feds assisting with response to ‘alarming spike’ in COVID-19 cases in Wabaseemoong, minister says

February 17, 2021

The federal Indigenous Services minister says the government is involved to try to help curb what he calls an “alarming spike” in COVID-19 cases in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations.

Vaccination rate is 6 times higher in Indigenous communities than in general population

February 17, 2021

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the nationwide push to prioritize First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities for the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to bear fruit, and that vaccination rates in those communities are now significantly higher than those reported elsewhere.

Toronto top doctor and Indigenous services minister alarmed by COVID variants

February 18, 2021

Officials expressed growing concern Wednesday over highly transmissible new COVID-19 variants taking hold in Canada’s biggest cities and in First Nation reserves across the country.

Indigenous people should top next vaccine priority list: Miller

February 17, 2021

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says new guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations reaffirms the standard set for provinces to prioritize Indigenous people in their vaccination programs.

NAN Oshkaatisak Council Issues Statement on Bushby Sentencing Hearing for Manslaughter Conviction

February 17, 2021

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Oshkaatisak (All Young Peoples) Council has issued the following statement regarding today’s sentencing for Brayden Bushby’s manslaughter conviction in the tragic death of Barbara Kentner.

Impact statements focus on racism, lawyers argue length of imprisonment during Bushby sentencing hearing

February 18, 2021

Brayden Bushby should spend several years behind bars at a federal prison for his role in the death of Barbara Kentner of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, both Crown and defence lawyers agreed at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Family describes how woman’s death from trailer hitch assault upended their lives

February 18, 2021

Relatives of an Indigenous woman who died after being assaulted with a trailer hitch in Thunder Bay, Ont., told a court they’d lost an irreplaceable loved one as well as a sense of personal safety with her passing.

COVID-19 vaccines have reached 27% of adult Indigenous population: minister

February 17,2021

Health authorities in Canada have distributed more than 83,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in over 400 First Nations, Inuit and northern communities, reaching 27 per cent of the Indigenous adult population, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Wednesday.


Six Nations stays on high alert as new COVID-19 death reported

February 17, 2021

COVID-19 restrictions have eased in Haldimand, Norfolk and Brant counties, but Six Nations of the Grand River remains on high alert thanks to a persistent spike in cases that has claimed two band members this month.

Northeastern Ont. health units keep watch on variants as COVID restrictions ease

February 16, 2021

With the exception of one region, the seven-week shutdown ended for all of northern Ontario today. A total of 27 health units across the province moved back to the COVID-19 response framework, which outlines restrictions in coloured categories — green through red. The lightest restrictions on businesses and gatherings are at the green stage.

Vaccinations begin for hundreds of Indigenous elders

February 18, 2021

After a winter storm delayed delivery by a day, hundreds of Indigenous elders in Ottawa will get their first COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday — a milestone for the community.


Northwestern Health Unit reports 22 new COVID-19 cases in the Kenora region

February 17, 2021

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Kenora region continues to mount. The Northwestern Health Unit reports 22 new cases Wednesday, bringing the active case count in the Kenora region to 85.


A Matter of Trust’: The Grim Reality Behind Indigenous Vaccine Fears

February 17, 2021

Devin Sampare is clear that he’s not an anti-vaxxer. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, Sampare is one of many Indigenous people who aren’t sure the benefits outweigh the risks. Given Canada’s history of colonization and systemic racism, some researchers say there is a clear reason for hesitancy.

Clean water, broken promises

February 18, 2021

When Ed Morrison needs government approval for a project in Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, he has a strategy to ensure public servants take his proposal seriously. “I can tell them exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, … but they don’t listen,” Morrison said in an interview.

First Nations communities suffer through tainted water crisis despite government promises

February 18, 2021

Neskantaga First Nation, located in a remote community in northern Ontario, has been through a quarter of a century without clean drinking water and giving it the longest boil water advisory in Canada. Since 2015, the Trudeau government has pledged more than $2 billion to address the water crisis in First Nations communities. But First Nations allege government policies and a lack of oversight has led to flawed and incomplete work being done


Extendicare Kapuskasing reports 16th death to COVID-19

February 15, 2021

Health officials have confirmed the latest death in connection to the outbreak at a Kapuskasing long-term care home. According to the Porcupine Health Unit, another resident at Extendicare Kapuskasing has died after contracting COVID-19. This is the sixteenth resident to have died of the virus.

Health officials in Sudbury area offer COVID-19 vaccination plan update

February 17, 2021

Health officials in the Sudbury area said that, pending supply, they are ready to move ahead with vaccinations. Public Health Sudbury & Districts said that it expects to start the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations to the most-vulnerable in line, pending recent guidance by the provincial government.

COVID outbreak at North Bay apartment building has turned deadly, involves variant

February 17, 2021

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has confirmed its area’s second COVID-related death, nine months after the first. Health officials made the announcement Wednesday morning and say it is linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at North Bay’s Skyline-Lancelot Apartments that has infected 31 people to date.


First Nations getting ‘left behind’ on broadband

February 17, 2021

Major issues around internet connectivity in First Nations communities have “really come to light” as a result of COVID-19, Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod told a panel of Anishinabek Nation leaders Tuesday.

Collaboration of First Nations key to jump hurdles of accessing broadband in communities

February 17, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the critical need for broadband in First Nations communities, said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare.

Niobium exploration program near Moosonee put on pause

February 17, 2021

Exploration activities for the James Bay Niobium Project are currently on pause. On Jan. 8, NioBay Metals Inc. received a three-year permit from the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines to drill about 20 to 30 test holes near South Bluff Creek to look for deposits of niobium and determine the feasibility of a mine. Niobium is used in electronics and to strengthen steel.


Magnetawan First Nation delays chief and council election due to COVID-19

February 18, 2021

Magnetawan First Nation, north of Parry Sound, will be delaying its election for council and chief by six months due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

‘It’s who I am’: Indigenous chefs bring their traditions back to the table

February 17, 2021

Indigenous chefs are skipping the grocery store lines and opting for a more traditional approach to food. Instead of pre-packaged meats and commercially grown foods, Indigenous chefs are returning to their territories to hunt and gather.

Pikangikum gets a facility to house local residents on bail

February 17, 2021

A new, first-of-its-kind transition home means that residents of Pikangikum First Nation no longer have to travel to Kenora for a bail hearing.

Music library Nagamo Publishing officially launches

February 18, 2021

The world’s first Indigenous-created music production library is open for business. Known as Nagamo Publishing, the creation is a subsidiary of Dadan Sivunivut, a holding company created by Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network (APTN).

Why a decades-old dispute over Algonquin ancestry is key to a city hall controversy

February 18, 2021

In a Pembroke, Ont., boardroom in 2013, a retired judge weighed the evidence to determine whether a voyageur who claimed in the mid-1800s to be a fugitive from an English death sentence was in fact an Algonquin.

‘We had a little real estate problem’: Tracing the history of Indigenous comedy in North America

February 17, 2021

In 1977, Oneida comic Charlie Hill skewered Hollywood stereotypes in his primetime television debut on the legendary yet controversial Richard Pryor Show.  “Charlie Hill came of age at the same time that minority activism was really percolating and starting to snowball in the United States,” says Canadian comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff in an interview on Q with Tom Power.

Ojibwe Author Tanya Talaga Joins Selkirk College’s Truth & Justice Series Conversation

February 17, 2021

Veteran journalist and acclaimed Ojibwe author Tanya Talaga will discuss the current state of Indigenous resurgence in Canada on March 4 as part of Selkirk College’s Truth & Justice Speaker Series.

Assembly of First Nations Knowledge Keepers demand serious action to ensure clean drinking water for All First Nations

February 17, 2021

On the first day of a national virtual gathering focused on protecting water in uncertain times hosted by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), a committee of Knowledge Keepers representing First Nations from coast to coast to coast delivered the following statement.

How the $250M Clearwater Seafoods purchase by 7 Mi’kmaw First Nations came to be

February 18, 2021

The Mi’kmaw leader behind the $250-million acquisition of Clearwater Seafoods says his early goals were even more ambitious — and that bargaining stance didn’t sit well with everyone.

30K masks being delivered to First Nations children in Manitoba communities and children’s hospital

February 17, 2021

First Nations children and their families are receiving a special delivery to help protect them during the pandemic thanks to a partnership between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba (CHFM).

Family of Will Ahmo looking for answers into his death at Headingley Correctional Centre

February 17, 2021

The family of a man who died after an altercation with correctional officers is calling for an independent investigation to be done regarding his death.

Linguist says more COVID-19 education needed in Mi’kmaw language

February 17,2021

As variant strains of the coronavirus spread quickly in many parts of Canada, a Mi’kmaw elder is worried that important information about COVID-19 could get lost in translation.

Freezing death of Yellow Quill woman exposes gaps in correctional system, advocates say

February 18, 2021

Advocates for incarcerated people say the death of Kimberly Squirrel, a 34-year-old mother of six from Yellow Quill First Nation, shows significant gaps in Saskatchewan’s corrections system.

‘She was everything to me’: Tina Fontaine’s tragic death prompts call for change

February 17, 2021

Thelma Favel still keeps her grandniece Tina Fontaine’s room exactly the way she left it more than six years ago.

“I don’t even want to touch anything in here, like to paint it, because this was her room,” Favel said.

City Council approves First Nations shelter and social housing in Downtown Eastside

February 17, 2021

A plan to build a new mixed-use affordable housing complex and shelter in the Downtown Eastside will move forward following Vancouver City Council’s unanimous decision to approve the project on Tuesday evening.

#ReconciliACTION school project sparks discourse

February 18, 2021

After several businesses in the Columbia Valley adopted a signage project from the Grade 6 and 7 class that was completed in support of The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) during Secret Path Week last fall, the success story reached the desks of educators and activists within the organization.

Tahltan First Nation calls COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. gold mine a ‘clear and present danger’ to community

February 17, 2021

A northern B.C. First Nation is calling a COVID-19 outbreak at the Brucejack gold mine a “threat” and a “clear and present danger” to its communities.


Here’s how First Nation Education Agreements are changing things for Indigenous students

February 17, 2021

B.C. is the first and only jurisdiction in Canada with an education agreement signed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), the province and the federal government — a matter that can be complex because of on and off reserve schools and the unique needs of individual nations.


One year after the Wet’suwet’en protests

February 17, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, in February 2020, RCMP officers raided Wet’suwet’en camps along the route of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C that plans to transport natural gas through Indigenous territory.

COVID-19 testing to begin in Inuit coastal community after presumptive case

February 18, 2021

COVID-19 testing will get underway Thursday and continue Friday in the small Labrador coastal community of Makkovik, the Nunatsiavut government says, as part of the public health response to a presumptive positive case of the virus in the Inuit town.

Tackle lack of basic health care for Indigenous peoples, then worry about racism, Nunavut’s MP says

February 17, 2021

The federal government made a commitment in late January to ensure that Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples, “receive first-class medical care, without fear of discrimination and maltreatment.”


Save the Date: Chiefs of Ontario 15th Annual Health Forum

The Chiefs of Ontario 15th Annual Health Forum will take place on February 23-25, 2021. This year’s theme is Sharing Stories: The True Test of Resilience Amidst Pandemic.

For more information, please visit:

Save the Date: Chiefs of Ontario 47th All Ontario Chiefs Conference 2021

The Chiefs of Ontario and Grand Council Treaty #3 will be hosting the 47th All Ontario Chiefs Conference 2021 on June 15-17, 2021. For more information, please visit

Save the Date: Chiefs of Ontario Engagement Sessions: First Nations Water Legislation

The Chiefs of Ontario Environment Department will be hosting a two-day engagement session on March 3-4, 2021. The focus of the 2-day fulsome engagement sessions includes creation of First Nations-led policies and solutions related to access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water.

For more information, please visit:

Annex 9 Climate Change Modelling Experts Workshop, March 22, 2021

As a follow up from the 2019 Climate Change Modelling Experts Workshop hosted in Ann Arbor, Annex 9 is working with GLISA to host another virtual workshop in March.

For more information, please contact Chris Hoyos at

2021 Great Lakes Day, March 1, 2021

The annual Great Lakes Day features dialogue on Great Lakes priorities by regional leaders and members of Congress who play a critical role in shaping Great Lakes policies.

For more information, click here:

International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) Annual Meeting, May 17-21, 2021

Hosted by Michigan Technological University, the virtual conference will feature four days of scientific sessions and speakers focusing on our theme Bridging: Knowledge, Seven Generations, Land-to-Lake.

For more information and registration, click here:

Chiefs of Ontario Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Find Our Latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates Here. This website provides information on emergency planning and preparedness, as well as on the unique programs and services that are available to First Nations in Ontario during times of emergency.

Issue 8 of The Official Chiefs of Ontario Magazine, The Advocate is now online! To view, please click here: